The Lubbock, Texas restaurant Cook's Garage has defended itself against accusations of racism after a customer posted an image of its decor that many have deemed offensive and racially charged, The Houston Chronicle reports.
Jessica Rios was reportedly dining in the restaurant for a company holiday party when she noticed a neon sign. The wall hanging featured a caricature of a Black man, drawing comparisons to a character in a 19th-century minstrel show in which white actors in blackface mocked African-American culture. Written on the man's teeth are the words "Coon Chicken Inn."
Rios took a photo of the sign, and posted it on Facebook to note her disapproval. The post, which has since been deleted, quickly went viral, eventually reaching the management at Cook's Garage. The restaurant reportedly responded the following day on Facebook, though that statement has also been deleted from social media.
The restaurant's statement, according to the Chronicle, reads:
"We did not put this sign up to be derogatory, racist or to offend anyone. This is part of Americana History...just like everything else hung in our collection and buildings. Aunt Jemima, mammies, and lots of other Black collectibles are highly sought after, as is Americana collectibles with white characters. The Coon Chicken Inn was an actual restaurant started in the 20’s. Again, we want to stress we do not intend to offend anyone, and are only preserving a part of history that should remind us all of the senselessness of racial prejudice."
While some have called the sign a piece of history that should be preserved, the overall sense is that it's highly offensive and inflammatory. The Cook's Garage Yelp profile has since been flooded with outraged comments charging its owners with racist behavior. Will that be enough to prompt them to take the sign down?
1/ Cook's Garage is defending the sign as "Americana history" but the thing is not all history should be celebrated and put up on a wall?? And it's not a "highly sought after black collectible" it's a racist reminder of the past.— Jozette (@jozetteamensah) December 17, 2017